David R. Weiss – May 28, 2022
Like many of you, I’m numb. From grief, horror, disbelief, outrage.
We have become a nation where the lives of innocent ones—most recently, and all too often for more than two decades now, children—are the price we’re willing to pay for unfettered access to weapons designed for carnage.
This is a complicated issue, with many angles to it. So, there will be a “long game” required to effect the policy changes—and the cultural changes—that are needed to make our society safer from gun violence.
Nevertheless, we are so much the global outlier in terms of gun violence and mass shootings that it makes a mockery of American Exceptionalism. This must and can be addressed. Every other nation on the globe has found both the resolve and the means to at least reign in the bloodshed. Anyone who says we can’t fix this, is lying.
But more to the point, our children are dying. They’re being obliterated—identified through DNA swabs because AR-15s are designed to mangle flesh beyond recognition.
And this slaughter of innocents calls for something more immediate than a “long game” (even if it also requires a long game). My humanity—yours, too!—demands of us something NOW. A wave of grief and horror that we allow ourselves to feel all the way to our bones. Absent knowing that truth in our depths how can we act from it? In words of outrage, speaking truth to those still willing to be complicit in this ongoing slaughter.
These are my words, penned to each of Minnesota’s GOP representatives (none of whom represent me, but all of whom continue to vote against gun law reforms in the House).
Dear Representatives Emmer, Fischbach, and Stauber,
Once again we find ourselves as a nation soaked in the blood of innocents, from Buffalo, New York to Uvalde, Texas and so many places beyond. We’ve now had 216 mass shootings (4 or more shot) in the U.S. in 2022 alone, eleven of which have involved mass murders (4 or more killed) (https://www.gunviolencearchive.org).
Other countries have addressed gun violence with FAR more success than we have. It is time to pass far-reaching legislation that bans assault weapons, and requires universal background checks, owner training, and institutes red flag laws. Regardless of what you may choose to do to increase access to mental health services, these types of gun regulation take steps necessary to protect public safety. There is no reading of the Second Amendment that requires the right to gun ownership—at the cost of public safety … at the cost of children’s lives.
In the gospels Jesus’ most dire words are reserved for those who undercut the well-being of children. He does not mince words. He says it would be better for them to have a great millstone tied around their neck and thrown into the sea than that they succeed in actions that threaten the hope held by children. (Mark 9:42)
Your most sacred duty is at the very least to promote an America in which children are safe. You cannot continue to side-step this duty. Long after your political tenure ends (and perhaps before) your legacy will be judged by your actions—your votes—for or against gun laws that increase the safety of children. In this regard, when the NRA tells you that you cannot ban the type of weapons that require parents to provide DNA swabs in order to identify the shredded bodies of their children, the NRA is marketing millstones. This summer, pick your policy wardrobe carefully—and courageously. You don’t want to be wearing any millstones.
I write as a fellow Minnesotan, father of six and grandfather of nine. I take my Christian faith very seriously, attending worship every Sunday and seeking after justice and mercy every day of the week. It’s in that spirit that I implore you to hear my words and begin aligning your votes with the lives of children instead of the weight of millstones.
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David Weiss is a theologian, writer, poet and hymnist, doing “public theology” around climate crisis, sexuality, justice, diversity, and peace. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more at www.davidrweiss.com where he blogs under the theme, “Full Frontal Faith: Erring on the Edge of Honest.” Support him in writing Community Supported Theology at www.patreon.com/fullfrontalfaith.